There isn’t a whole lot of mystery to how local punk band the Lollies are finding their niche in the New Orleans musical landscape. Since emerging on the scene earlier this year and playing a string of memorable performances with an unmatched melodic intensity, the young four-piece has been cultivating a loyal following of fans who have come to crave the spectacle of their raucous live shows.
A little less obvious though is how the Lollies manage to do it all so effortlessly. Often the only thing more impressive than their raw excitement is their ability to temper it enough to keep things tight without missing a step and melodically harmonize without losing their aggressive edge.
But if there was ever any doubt to whether the Lollies were capable of putting on wax a product as perfectly balanced as their live prowess, Potential – their debut full-length on Community Records, a local punk label as much known for its attention to quality as its dedication to painstaking drudgery and elbow grease – makes it clear that this young band possesses a tireless drive to meet its members’ own high standards. Indeed, recorded over a sleepless 8 month period in the 9th Ward bedroom of lead singer and central songwriter Zachery Quinn, Potential somehow manages to match – if not totally outdo – the Lollies’ live energy with a meticulous focus on aural nuance and versatile instrumental arrangement despite the project’s shoestring budget.
Right out of the gate, opener “I am a Malcontent” balances the chaotic intensity of Long Walk-era Whippersnapper with cavernous shouts and smooth, shadowy trumpets while “The Struggle” stacks Descendents-inspired tinny guitars atop cymbal-heavy drumwork and glazes them over with the trademark melodic “oohs” and “ahhs” of guitarist Brian Pretus. Elsewhere, “My Parents Are Cannibals (For Good Reason)” brings to the surface the rock n’ roll punk influence of Rancid with Alex Talbot muffing his bass to a high-register rumble, Pretus ringing out feel-good guitar solos and Quinn rolling a barroom piano behind one of the most absorbing vocal performances on the album.
More impressive than the array of deep-rooted punk influences on display in Potential is the facile dexterity with which the Lollies weave it all together having the luxury of nothing more than their own talent and resourcefulness, and it’s no wonder that these young punks have been the subject of gradually more vocal praise over the last year. Music this fully-realized serves less as a revival or reawakening of New Orleans’ profound love of DIY punk and more of a simple reminder that it hasn’t gone anywhere and that when it’s done well, few listening experiences are as satisfying.